George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, today welcomed the decision of the International Olympic Committee to admit golf into the Olympic Games in 2016 and 2020, and recognised the importance of the worldwide support that contributed to the dream becoming reality.
The final vote on golf’s inclusion to the Olympic Programme – the sport was part of the Games in 1900 and 1904 – was announced this afternoon at the 121st International Olympic Committee session in Copenhagen, Denmark, at which O’Grady was in attendance as a member of the International Golf Federation along with Peter Dawson, Chief Executive of The R&A and joint secretary of the IGF, and Ty Votaw, Executive Director of the IGF Olympic Golf Committee.
O’Grady said: “This is a proud and historic day for our sport. For golf to be associated again with the Olympic Games is a perfect fit in terms of honour and integrity, pride and passion, sportsmanship and goodwill. It is a positive decision which we warmly welcome.
“We respond on behalf of the many international bodies, federations, individuals and indeed players who encouraged The European Tour to take a leadership position in securing the Olympic Dream for golfers of today and tomorrow worldwide.
Developing the game throughout the world
“They all share with us the desire to grow and galvanise the game globally and they instilled in us the confidence to persevere with our quest. The European Tour has a history of supporting and developing the game throughout the world and providing a platform for players from all countries to cultivate their careers. We also have a responsibility to reflect the views of all the countries where we are invited to play and indeed from where players come to compete on The European Tour.
“The Olympics provide a special dream for the athletes of today and tomorrow and now golf can share in that dream. The Olympics will bring a new dimension to our sport; they will bring greater exposure and recognition; and they will bring millions of new faces into the game.
“Golf is global and we are convinced that this decision will amplify awareness and additional progress in those countries where golf is still in its infancy.
“We now look forward to golf taking place in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Many great golfers from South America have gained fame playing the game, including the great Roberto de Vicenzo, the winner of The 1967 Open Championship. In recent years The European Tour has been honoured to have among its membership Angel Cabrera, the US Open Champion in 2007 and Masters Champion this year, and the likes of Eduardo Romero, Vicente Fernandez, Ricardo Gonzalez and the Brazilians Jamie Gonzalez, winner of the Tournament Players’ Championship in 1984, Priscillo Diniz, twice a winner on the European Senior Tour, and Alexandre Rocha.
“Of course, The European Tour is no stranger to Brazil. The Brazil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open, won by Padraig Harrington and Darren Fichardt in 2000 and 2001 respectively, and the Brazil Rio de Janeiro 500 Years Open, won by Roger Chapman in 2000, were played on The European Tour International Schedule.
An enthralling new challenge
“History will determine how momentous the decision is for golf, and where the Olympics will sit in terms of the Major Championships. What we do know is that being part of the Olympic Games in 2016 will create an enthralling new challenge for the players and one which, as emphasised by other sports, will bring gold and glory for the winners, honour to all that participate and fulfilment to everyone involved.
“We congratulate and thank the International Olympic Committee for taking this positive decision and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Throughout the process the International Golf Federation, the recognised International Federation for the sport of golf in the Olympic Movement, has underlined the unprecedented support by international golf organisations, including a commitment by those who conduct Major Championships, to adjust their summer schedules to ensure their respective tournaments will not conflict or compete with the Olympic golf competition, as well as the resounding support of golf’s top-ranked male and female players.
O’Grady added: “The support of the players has been paramount to the success of the process. Many players gave their time to provide their support with Colin Montgomerie taking part in the presentation to the IOC executive board in Lausanne in June and Padraig Harrington participating in the final presentation before the International Olympic Committee here in Copenhagen.”
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